## Wednesday, October 6, 2010

### "Poetry, in other words, is mathematics"

From Tim Love, British poet and member of the Computer Systems Group in the Engineering Department at Cambridge University, I received this link -- National Poetry Day: unlock the mathematical secrets of verse -- to an article announcing the October 7 holiday in the UK.  The article's author, Steve Jones (a professor of genetics at University College), goes so far as to begin his third paragraph with the sentence quoted as title to this posting.  Follow the link and form your own view.  Is mathematics truly important to poetry?

This article reached me during a day that I had a particular mathematical pattern on my mind, the palindrome. The years 1991 and 2002 are palindromic numbers--but finding  poems whose letter-sequences are palindromes (and also make sense) is a bit harder.  Using an online list posted by Phil Bolsta I propose the following "found" palindrome poems.  What palindromic poems can YOU propose?

Note: I Dissent.
A fast never prevents
a fatness. I diet on.

Cigar? Toss it
in a can. It is
so tragic.

1. This post brings up some interesting aspects about the intersection of math and poetry.

In the October 6th post: 'Poetry, in other words, is mathematics" from the intersection blog the author highlights two different authors and how they approach the intersection of math and poetry.

The first is the article -- National Poetry Day: unlock the mathematical secrets of verse
by Steve Jones. He is interested in the structure of poems and the importance of the rules for these poems. He finds poetry being closely related to a particular branch of mathematics known as combinatorics, the study of permutations.

Then there is Phil Bolsta who has an interest in palindromes and he provides a rather long list of them in is blog. But the other item that he posts is an amazing piece of word structure gymnastics titled “The Lost Generation” (http://bolstablog.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/palindromes/) which can be read from top to bottom for one meaning and from bottom to top for the opposite meaning.

Check out the links, they are both very interesting.

Steve Jones sees a connection between poetry and the mathematical field of combinatorics, the study of permutations. One way to look at poetry and mathematics is
Poetry is to writing
As proofs are to mathematics

A complete mathematical proof covers all cases (an infinite number) an many of these proofs are written with short concise statements.

Many poems do the same thing addressing larger than life issues on many different levels using only a short combination of words. This economy of words is one of the great things about poetry. Mathematics deals with infinite possibilities and poetry is a container for longing.